Introduction – Kaliyappatti is a small village located near Kunnandarkoil. A ruined Shiva temple on the foreshore of a tank, Samadhi-kulam, is located near this village. This early Chola temple of 9th-10th century is constructed fully in granite. This temple is a good example for the study of temple architecture in South India.
Shiva Temple – This small temple is built of granite blocks and currently is in ruins. The ground near the temple is full of shifting sand which has caused a tilt in south side of the temple. This east facing temple is consisted of a garbha-griha, an ardha-mandapa and a Nandi-mandapa. Ardha-mandapa has not survived. Garbha-griha is a square room of eight feet side. Ardha-mandapa in front of this garbha-griha would be a square of six feet side. This temple was designed in parivara-style with subsidiary shrines around the main shrine. However, none of these subsidiary shrines have survived except the traces of their base. S R Balasubramanyam puts this temple as the best among the ek-tala (single storey) temples of the early Chola age.
The temple is dedicated to Shiva. Being an early temple, adhisthana (basement) of this is not much advanced. This simple adhisthana is consisted of khur, jagati, tripatta-kumuda, vajana elements, from bottom to top. External walls are devoid of images inside niches. There are four pilasters on each side supporting a beam over angular corbels upon veera-kantha. Above this beam is another horizontal shaft on which kudus (horse shoe shaped dormer windows) are carved at regular intervals. These kudus are devoid of any image inside.
Above this is a vyala-vali which runs through three side except in front. This vyala-vali forms the base of the shikhara (tower) of the temple. Shikhara is mounted on a square with low rising walls. A horizontal beam runs on all four sides of these walls and have a mukha-nasika (large horse shoe window) on each side. These mukha-nasikas are without any image inside. Shikhara is designed in nagara style having square base with a square curvilinear top. Shikhara is topped with two inverted lotuses. There would have been a kalasha on top of these however it has not survived.
There are few stray statues in and around the temple. It is stated that statues of Brahma, Vishnu and Dakshinamurthy were found near the temple and were restored to their original niches. If this is true then Dakshinamurthy would have been placed on south niche, Vishnu at west niche and Brahma on north niche. However there are no images in niches now. Also not all of the above mentioned images are there in the temple now. There are only two statues there one could be of Vishnu and another of Dakshinamurthy however I am not very certain as those look very recent to me. I have no idea where those original images are now, may be in some museum.
Inscriptions – There is few inscriptions in this temple. One of those is from eighteenth year of the Chola king Parakesarivarman which puts this temple to middle of 9th century CE. S R Balasubramanayam suggests that this Parakesarivarman was Vijayala Chola, the founder of the later Chola dynasty.
How to Reach – This small village is located near Kunnandarkoil and located on Keeranur-Killukkottai route. Frequency of buses are very low. This temple is located very interior of the village outskirts. It took us about 30 minutes to locate this and it was only possible after asking a local to accompany us to the site. There are not many houses nearby the temple hence getting help there is not very easy. If you want to reach there then better take the help from the main village when you pass through that. During my trip, I visited Kunnandarkoil then proceeded to Maliyadipatti and then to Kaliyappatti. Kunnandarkoil is about 13 km from Keeranur.
- Balasubramanayam, S R (1965). Early Chola Art Part 1. Asia Publishing House. Mumbai.
- Mahalingam, T V (1991). A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamilnadu and Kerala States Vol VI. S Chand & Company Ltd. New Delhi.
- Srinivasan, K R (1996). Temples of South India. National Book Trust of India. New Delhi. ISBN 8123718675